Sheriff-elect Tim Baxley is looking forward to Sunday morning.
By that time, he will have long been off the stage for the 7th annual Dancing with the Clarendon County Stars, which will be held 6:30 p.m. Saturday at The Bean Market in Lake City.
“It’s for a good cause, and I’m willing to do anything for a good cause,” said Baxley, who was initially asked in 2015 to be a part of the popular fundraiser, which puts together local celebrities and dance professionals and then has them compete for both People’s Choice and the overall dance skills title.
“I couldn’t do it last year, and I told Cheryl (Wingard) that I would be willing the next year,” Baxley said. “I’m not a dancer at all, but I keep my word.”
Baxley and his partner, Laurence Manning Academy graduate Haley Erickson, will be dancing to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps.”
“I don’t really know how to explain the dance,” Baxley said. “It’s hard.”
Like Baxley, McLeod Health Clarendon nurse Sam Sanders also readily admits he is no “natural dancer.” He and Manning High School graduate Emily Richburg will take the stage to “Move Your Feet.”
“Although I’m a musician, I have ‘two left feet’ and no past experience dancing,” Sanders said. “Practice has been more fun than I initially anticipated. But it’s a lot of work.”
Sanders even pulled a muscle in his ankle during rehearsals and had to take nearly a week off to recover.
“It’s great exercise,” said Sanders. “I’m getting a little better, but I don’t consider myself a great dancer.”
Sanders said he was willing to compete this year after Richburg asked him personally.
“I’ve known her for a long time from The Zone and from church at Seacoast,” Sanders said. “I felt like Emily and I would match up well as dance partners, so I decided to give it a try this year when she asked me if I was interested.”
Sanders and Richburg have had some help in their dance from Richburg’s former teacher, Donna Prothro of The Dancer’s Workshop.
“This entire process has been a challenge,” Sanders said. “I’m looking forward to continuing the challenge on the stage.”
Both men said they had a new respect for dancers, something with which contestant Badge Baker readily agrees.
“It’s definitely more physical and athletic than I thought it would be,” said Baker, who has been practicing with his partner, former Miss Clarendon Hannah Henshaw, at least twice a week for the past month. The pair will perform a “jazz-type dance” to Eric Paisley’s “High Class,” a country song.
“I am in no way whatsoever a dancer,” Baker said. “So, it’s going to be interesting to say the least. It will be fun to see everyone else dance on Saturday night.”
Baker has kept up a close trash-talking rivalry through social media with fellow star Leigh Ann Maynard, who is dancing hip hop to Boyz II Men’s “Motown Philly” with professional Josh Romero.
“That definitely makes it more fun,” Baker said. “I think it helps a little with the nerves.”
Maynard is this year’s only contestant to have competed before. She won the People’s Choice Award with Kaleb Allen in 2011. Allen is partnering this year with Robin Prothro.
“I don’t think I can really rely on that past experience, because this dance is totally different,” said Maynard. “This dance is much faster, and there are way more steps. There’s a lot of eight counts throughout. It’s a lot harder than what I did five years ago.”
Maynard said she is most looking forward “to seeing how much money is raised for these charities, especially Habitat for Humanity.”
Being a board member for Clarendon Habitat for Humanity, Maynard is well aware how much the funds raised through Dancing with the Clarendon County Stars benefits the charity each year.
“It’s a tremendous help,” Maynard said. “I’m just glad to be a part of it from this side once again.”
Maynard said she has also enjoyed the rivalry with Baker.
“At one point, he stuck a sign in front of my office that said, ‘2nd Place Dancing with the Stars,’” Maynard said. “We’ve been going back and forth on (social media).”